CP Article

Seguin, Texas, June 4, 1865:
Latest Known Legitimate Confederate Postal Usage

John L. Kimbrough MD

This article is from the May - June 1995 issue of the Confederate Philatelist.

Seguin, Texas, located just east of San Antonio, is certainly not one of the better known Texas towns. However, the illustrated cover (folded letter), which traveled only 30 miles between Seguin and San Antonio in early June 1865, now has the distinction of being the latest known, confirmed, legitimate Confederate postal use. It is a full two weeks later than the Dietz-listed date of May 20, 1865. The following analysis using known historical facts will show how this statement can be supported.

Figure 1 -- Seguin, Texas to San Antonio, Texas "Paid" June 4 (1865). Latest known Confederate cover.

The cover has a manuscript "Seguin June 4 PAID" with no rate indicated. There are other recorded Confederate Seguin covers with similar manuscript marks and no rate shown. These marks are defmitely consistent with known Confederate usage.

If that were all we had, then we could go no further. But this is a folded letter. The dateline and the text of the letter then become very important. The letter reads as follows:

Seguin June the 2nd 1865

Dear Brother John

Wash reached here this evening after a travel of two hundred miles on foot. The soldiers took his wagon and team near Halls Bluff. He says that Mr. Lard is [ ] for his team being taken. What must he do? Go on to you at San Antonio or remain here. He is the worst cut Negro you ever saw. I really feel sorry for him I never new [sic] any trouble until now. Sam got home day before yesterday he is looking well. We are all as well as usual except old Aunt Juliet she is barely alive. Mother and father reached home in good time the day they left your house and stood the trip very well. I had a letter from Thos yesterday but it was very old written the 15th he had been sick but was better. With love to all I remain

Your affectionate Sister Kate Johnston

PS Tell Rollin I think he might write to me once a week. I have had no letter for two weeks.


Figure 2 -- Seguin, Texas Folded Letter with the June 2, 1865 dateline clearly seen.

The letter was written June 2, 1865, but was not posted until two days later. The importance of the letter is that it confirms the 1865 usage. There are no war references contained in the letter. There is a reference to a "Negro," which seems to imply that he was still considered a slave. News of the emancipation did not reach many parts of Texas until the Federal occupation troops arrived. The Confederate Army in the Trans-Mississippi arranged the terms of surrender on May 26, 1865, but these terms were not accepted by Confederate General E. Kirby Smith until June 2, 1865 (the day this letter was written). Federal troops under Major General Canby did not formally occupy Texas until June 17, 1865. One could therefore argue that this letter was technically posted within the United States because the war was concluded for all practical purposes. But that question is a real gray zone. It is therefore logical to deduce from the known facts that this letter was posted through an intact local Confederate postal system under the rules, regulations, and rates of the Confederate Postal Service, because federal authority in this part of the Confederacy had not as yet been re-established. Consequently, we now have a new date of June 4, 1865 for the latest recorded Confederate postal usage.

The cover described here was recently discovered buried in a large remainder lot in a major auction. The cover had apparently been part of a collection for a very long time without its true significance being discovered. Thanks is due to Brian Green for first bringing this cover to my attention and providing the definitive authentication.

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